Hi, I’m Pam Keeton with ArcPoint Strategy. I am in charge of business development and client services in public relations and communications.
Why Is a Having a Clear, Concise Message Important?
One thing a lot of clients struggle with is describing what they do and the value proposition they bring their customers and clients. The way to do that is through effective messaging. Messages are the foundation for all successful communications programs. If you can’t describe what you do to your audiences, you will have a hard time convincing them that they should buy or use your product or service.
Clear messages ensure that you are speaking across your company both internally and externally with clear, consistent, accurate messages that can be backed up with factual data.
A message is not a slogan. It’s not necessarily something you find in an ad. It’s more about the essence of your company, your product, and your value proposition.
How We Teach You to Describe What You Do
Typically when we work with clients, we look at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threat. We listen to the language and terms they use to describe their company, their terms, their services, and then we have them summarize it in 1-2 sentences that are backed by factual data and address their customers needs. It may not be rocket science, but sometime it’s challenging, especially for clients in very technical or scientific fields, for them to distill what they do into understandable message segments.
This is when somebody in the communications field outside of your industry can help. We translate these technical and scientific terms into language that’s relatable for a wide audience. After all, the public is less likely to be interested in your product or service if they don’t understand it.
So basically, I help companies describe what they do. Sometimes when I tell people that, they don’t understand why companies can’t do that themselves, but in reality, it’s very difficult for a lot of companies to describe themselves in succinct, simple terms. To use the popular “elevator pitch” analogy, we want to get people to the point where they can describe their company, product, or service to someone in an elevator in 3-5 sentences. And this is where having clear, concise messages is important.
The Same Message Over and Over Again
It’s important to make sure that everybody in the company is on the same page in terms of how they describe the company. You want many voices saying the same message over and over again. And that’s how you begin ensure that your audiences remember what is important about you and your company.
Effective messages are clear, concise, memorable, and supported with facts. You don’t want to state something you can’t back up with facts. A lot of times when we’re structuring a message, we will have your message and we will have some supporting proof points. Let’s say you’re competing with another technology company, maybe you’re both in national defense or security. You want to be able to clearly distinguish what makes your product better or different from the other one.
Tell Your Audience What They Need To Know
When you’re putting together your message architecture, it’s important to understand what your audience needs. Whether you’re speaking to an audience of investors or policy makers, you need to know what kind of messages and information these audiences are looking for and use that information structure your messages effectively. If you have a solid message, then you should be able to address the information needs of all of your audiences.
You do, however, want to steer clear of having different messages for different groups because there’s no way you can remember that when you try to relate to your audiences. It may not be rocket science, but it does take skill to create concise messages that relate to all your audiences.
About Pam Keeton
Pamela Keeton has extensive experience leading and managing successful
communications teams and campaigns in a variety of settings, including
government, for-profit companies, and non-profit organizations. She has specific
experience in public affairs campaigns to influence key audiences, crisis
communications, media relations, and employee communications. She’s won
numerous awards, published articles and is a frequent speaker at executive
Pam began her public affairs career in the U.S. Army and served 24 years –10 in the
active Army and 14 in the US Army Reserve, which allowed her to also pursue a
civilian career. During her Army service she deployed twice to combat and worked
extensively with U.S. and international news media. She was awarded Bronze Star
medals for exceptionally meritorious service after each deployment. Her last tour
was as director of public affairs for Combined Forces Command Afghanistan, which
at the time was the senior U.S. command in Afghanistan and a joint coalition
including some 19 nations. She retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Other career highlights include more than six years at the public affairs firm Powell
Tate in Washington, DC, where she rose to senior vice president and led its
successful defense practice group. Pam was also an executive with Boeing and
headed external relations for The Aerospace Corporation. She’s managed teams of
up to 50 people and budgets over $1 million. Early in her civilian career she spent
eight award-winning years with a public-school district in Texas as its public
information officer, handling internal communications, media relations and
Pam holds a bachelor of arts in English and a master of science in mass
communications; is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and Staff College and the
Defense Information School; and is accredited in public relations by the Public
Relations Society of America. She also holds a US security clearance